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Radiohead's ‘Kid A’ cover artist explains the creative influences

The mind behind the cover art of Radiohead‘s iconic 2000 album, Kid A, has recently discussed his creative process and what influenced his work for the record.

Together, the celebrated artist Stanley Donwood, along with the band’s frontman Thom Yorke, are co-curating a new artwork exhibition in London centred around Radiohead’s upcoming reissues of Kid A and Amnesiac.

Entitled ‘How To Completely Disappear’, the display will run from October 5 to 19. It will be held at the esteemed Christie’s auction house on King Street, St. James’s. 

Speaking to the auction house about his long-standing collaboration with Radiohead, Donwood discussed some of the influences that inspired both album covers and how his creative process took shape. 

Of the band’s interest in a physical presentation of their albums, he explained: “It’s quite rare for a band to be as interested in their visual representation as the music”. He also talked of how he was invited to move into the studio during the recording sessions for Kid A in order for his paintings to “respond to the developing mood of the album”.

For the exhibition, Donwood is selling six large paintings he created especially for Kid A. There will also be drawings, lyrics and digital art also available that were made during that momentous chapter of the band’s career. 

The series of often dark and dystopian landscapes were made between 1999 and 2001 and closely related to the themes and aesthetic of the imposing final cover art for Kid A. Donwood was also asked about the dark nature of some of his paintings, and he revealed that it had a lot to do with his feelings at the time. 

“I had a lot of things on my mind to do with the ongoing conflict in the former Yugoslavia, and the death tolls,” he explained. “It was about some sort of cataclysmic power existing in the landscape.”

This comes as Yorke had previously described how he and Donwood were “obsessed with triangular mountains” and “had visions of pyramids flying over us”. 

Donwood elaborated: “We started to use the computer to collapse geology into itself and to exaggerate mountains and gorges.” He continued: “to populate the landscape with stalking creatures like pylons that had come to life, with half-completed cartoon behemoths and floating red cubes, aerial swimming pools of blood.”

In what is clearly a busy time for the band, earlier this month, Radiohead and PlayStation announced a new ‘virtual exhibition’, which is centred around the band’s impending reissues.

Details remain vague about the release, but PlayStation describes it as “An upside-down digital/analogue universe created from original artwork and recordings to commemorate 21 years of Radiohead‘s ‘Kid A’ and ‘Amnesiac’. Coming in November 2021.”

Listen to Yorke and Donwood talk about the exhibition below.